The future does not seem bright for the 145 abandoned children living in four shelters that have been set up in the district, as they face closure due to non-registration under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
With the district administration issuing notices to all unregistered homes for children, the failure of government officials to keep a check on the shelters, running illegally for the past many years, has been highlighted.
According to the available data, 145 children are living in these four homes.
In Manali, 81 children live at Dar-Ul-Fazal, while 31 stay at Radha and 13 at Sewa Bhari. At Vashishth village, the Anand Dham has 20 children, including boys and girls.
Kullu child welfare committee chairman Shiv Singh told HT that according to the JJ Act, it was mandatory to register child welfare homes within six months.
He added that under the Act, admission and rehabilitation of any abandoned child was recommended by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and doing so without informing the body was described as an “unethical practice”, punishable under the Act.
Radha Children's Home chairperson Darshna Thakur said the state government should have given time for registration, as it affected the children who had “borne the brunt of desertion” earlier.
“The hasty closure or these homes may have a negative psychological impact on them, and affect their health. The government should have taken the decision cautiously,” he added.
Social worker Pawan K Kashyap said the rehabilitation of neglected children in unregistered children homes had increased the feeling of insecurity in them, as there are increased chances of trafficking or exploitation, as the government had no control over them.
He added that the homes that fulfill the norms under the JJ Act should be registered.
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said the district administration had issued notices to the heads of all unregistered children's homes in the district, and asked them to report over the issue.
“Some of them have already applied for registration, and more time will be given to them,” he claimed, adding that if any shelter was closed, its inmates would be rehabilitated in other government-run homes.
The state government has issued closure orders citing directions of the Supreme Court, which, on December 16 last year, directed the states and union territories to submit status reports within eight weeks.